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March 31 , 2008

The Colonizer and the Colonized


The Colonizer and the Colonized by Albert Memmi (translated from the French by Howard Greenfeld; introduction by Jean-Paul Sartre; 39,000 words)

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Written in 1956 when Morocco and Tunisia gained independence from France and soon after the Algerian war had started, this book describes the inescapable bonds between colonizer and colonized. Born in Tunis, Memmi is one of the colonized, but as a Jew, he identified culturally with the colonizer. He moved to France in 1956 and draws on his experience to analyze vividly how colonizer and colonized are mutually dependent, and ultimately both victims of colonialism.

“The Colonizer and the Colonized [is] now regarded as a classic description of the inner dynamics of racism and colonialism, a work that in its economic and political sophistication, its sober perceptions of the interdependence of colonizer and colonized, rivals Franz Fanon’s more famous but more romantic Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth.” — Richard Locke, The New York Times

“The subject of colonialism has rarely been treated more lucidly and devastatingly than in this book.” — Library Journal

“Widely influential.” — New Yorker

“Confiscated by colonial police throughout the world since its 1957 publication, The Colonizer and the Colonized is an important document of our times, an invaluable warning for all future generations.” — Los Angeles Times

“Albert Memmi’s characterology of master and servant has a personal as well as a social dimension. The pecking order he describes has its accurate analogues in the lives of middle-class Americans.” — Emile Capouya, Saturday Review

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